Swanson adopts deferential approach during first day with Diamondbacks

Anyone who watched Dansby Swanson play at Vanderbilt expects the time will come – sooner rather than later – when he steps into the batter’s box at a Major League stadium.

For his part, however, Swanson did not see Monday as that time.

The first overall pick in last month’s draft spent the day with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team that selected him and signed him to a contract that included a $6.5 million signing bonus.

According to FoxSports.com, he had dinner Sunday with Diamondbacks scouts and spent Monday getting acquainted with others in the organization and Chase Field prior to that night’s game against Miami. He spent the third inning in the broadcast booth.

When offered the opportunity to take batting practice prior to the contest, he declined.

"It's their space, their time; they're trying to get ready for a game," Swanson said, according to FoxSports.com. "I'm not one to interrupt that.

"Whenever I get the chance to earn it that's when I'll be out there doing it. As for now, I'll let them have it; it's their field."

Swanson will begin his pro career this week with Salt River Fields in the Arizona Rookie League and the plan is for him to move to High-A Visalia after a week to 10 days. Once that season is complete he will play in the Arizona Fall League.

“My goal since I was little is to be the best I can, whatever that may be," Swanson said. "I have a lot of belief in myself that one day I can be one of the better players in this league. But for right now I just have to take it day by day to get to that point.”

Swanson’s deferential approach was not lost on those for whom Chase Field is currently their professional home.

“He's a wonderful kid,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. “He's very confident but knows where he is and what he has to do to get here to the big leagues. He's excited to start his journey and had a lot of good questions.

"He's got a great mind for the game. He understands we have a good young core here and he wants to be a part of that someday. But he knows it's got to come in the right timetable.”

And Monday was not the right time to take batting practice with the Major League team.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jul 21, 2015 12:35 PM

Wiseman's first full week of pro baseball an award winner

Maybe Rhett Wiseman’s first full week as a professional baseball player could have gone better.

As it was, though, it was the best of anyone in the New York-Penn League.

The former Vanderbilt outfielder was named NYPL Player of the Week on Monday after he went 9-for-25 (.360) with a double, two home runs, six runs scored and seven RBIs from July 13-19. He also stole two bases.

The third-round draft pick by the Washington Nationals made his pro debut on July 10 with the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays, the Nationals’ Class A short-season affiliate. He has had at least one hit in all but two of the 11 games he has played and through Monday had a five-game hit streak that included four multi-hit performances.

Overall, he is batting .325 and has a team-leading three home runs.

“Physically, you look at him and he's a big, strong kid,” Doubledays manager Gary Cathcart recently told The (Auburn, N.Y.). Citizen. "He's aggressive at the plate and in everything that he does. There's a lot to work with there, and I'm excited about what kind of player he could be.”

As good as he has been, the team is currently 12-17 and in fourth place in its division. It has lost three straight, the second longest current skid among the 14 NYPL clubs.

“Everyone I met has been so welcoming,” Wiseman told The Citizen. “The organization has treated me well, and I'm looking forward to getting on the right track with these guys and starting to win some ballgames.”

For now he’ll have to be content with winning an award.

Jul 21, 2015 11:50 AM

Commodores' first-round picks get down to business of pro baseball

It was a big weekend for Vanderbilt baseball’s three 2015 first-round draft picks.

Shortstop Dansby Swanson and pitcher Walker Buehler each signed with their respective teams shortly before Friday’s deadline to do so. The next night pitcher Carson Fulmer made his professional debut.

In the case of Swanson, the first overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the deal was done just in the nick of time.

According to an MLB.com report, “the two sides didn't come to terms until 10 minutes before the deadline, although both parties had been in communication over the past several days.”

Swanson received a signing bonus of $6.5 million, under the assigned slot value of $8,616,900.

“We felt we made a competitive offer," D-backs senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson said. "There's definitely some relief because we were picking No. 1; we were able to sign our first-round pick and get him in the fold. Now, it's about getting him prepared to achieve some of his goals and dreams."

The report said Swanson likely would be assigned to Class A (advanced) Visalia.

Buehler, the 24th pick, also got less than his slotted value to sign with Los Angeles. Rather than join any of the Dodgers farm teams, though, he will undergo Tommy John surgery and spend roughly a year or so in rehab.

From MLB.com:

Buehler's bonus is for less than his slot value of $2,094,400, and CBSSports.com reported that he will need to undergo Tommy John surgery. Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi declined to comment on Walker's health or say when he might begin pitching for the organization.

"We're obviously excited to have him on board," Zaidi said. "He finished the college season strong, obviously pitched in the College World Series. So beyond that, we don't have any comment for the time being."

Fulmer, the eighth overall selection, signed with the Chicago White Sox two weeks earlier and finally got his chance Saturday with that team’s Arizona League affiliate. He was the starter but pitched only the first inning. He struck out the first batter he faced, allowed a single to the second but then picked him off first base, and then got a fly ball to end the inning.

From ChicagoNow.com:

An impressive debut, on a handful of pitches - which included a few mid-upper 90's fastballs (94-96), and a few curveballs in the mid 80's. Even more impressive: 2 of the 3 Angels he faced were rehabbing top prospects.

Jul 20, 2015 5:15 AM

Gray gives All-Star performance in game that costs him All-Star appearance

It was going to cost Sonny Gray a chance to pitch in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

So the Smyrna native and former Vanderbilt All-American used Sunday’s start to reaffirm why he was one of 13 pitchers named last week to the American League roster for the annual showcase, which takes place Tuesday in Cincinnati.

Gray threw a two-hit shutout for the Oakland A’s in a 2-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians. He allowed just two singles, one in the fourth inning and one in the eighth, plus one walk. He struck out six.

It was his first shutout of the season and third of his career.

“He was so good,” catcher Stephen Vogt, Oakland’s only other All-Star, said via MLB.com. "His ball was cutting a lot, it was sinking a lot. (Sunday) was probably the best curveball he's had in a long time. He smells blood and just goes for it. (Sunday), his ball was cutting up to four to six inches at times. It was just a lot of fun to watch him do what he does best.”

From MLB.com:

According to the CBA: Any starting pitcher elected or selected to the All-Star team who makes a start on the Sunday immediately preceding the All-Star Game ("Sunday Pitcher") shall have the option to participate or not participate in the All-Star Game. If such starting pitcher elects to participate in the All-Star Game, he will not be permitted to pitch for more than one inning, and he may also inform his manager that he should be removed from the game if he reaches a certain pitch count (irrespective of whether he has completed one inning), provided such pitch count is reasonable.

The agreement goes on to say that: If a Sunday Pitcher who was originally named to the team elects not to participate in the All-Star Game, he will be replaced on the roster but treated in the same manner as other All-Stars who are excused from participation, and he will be encouraged to attend and be announced at the All-Star Game.

Gray’s Sunday performance made him the A.L. leader in ERA (2.04) at the All-Star break. His 10 wins (he’s 10-3) are tied for second in the league.

A first-time All-Star, he has said he will not exercise his option to pitch on short rest.

He will, however, start the A’s next game, Thursday against Minnesota.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jul 13, 2015 5:20 AM

Three more Vanderbilt baseball players sign professional contracts

Half of the Vanderbilt players selected in this year’s Major League Baseball draft have now taken the money and moved on.

Pitchers Philip Pfeifer and Tyler Ferguson and outfielder Rhett Wiseman all signed professional contracts Thursday. In so doing, all three gave up their final year of college eligibility and brought to four (of eight) the number of drafted players who have signed this year.

Eighth overall selection Carson Fulmer signed with the Chicago White Sox last week.

Pfeifer, a fourth-year junior, was a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The winningest pitcher in Tennessee high school history, he became a weekend starter this year after having sat out the 2014 season for personal reasons. Pfeifer was 10-6 in his Vanderbilt career, including 6-5 with a win over TCU at the College World Series this year. According to MLB.com, his signing bonus was $722,500.

Wiseman, a junior, also was a third-round draft pick. He went to the Washington Nationals three picks after Pfeifer was selected. He tied for the team lead with 15 home runs un 2015.

Ferguson, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, signed with the Texas Rangers, who selected him in the sixth round. He never fully realized his potential with the Commodores and appeared in just 15 games this season. Ferguson finished with an 11-6 record in 40 career appearances.

The deadline for drafted college players to sign professional contracts is July 17.

First-round picks Dansby Swanson (Arizona) and Walker Buehler (Los Angeles), 12th-round choice Zander Wiel (Minnesota) and 39th-round selection John Kilichowski (Chicago Cubs) remain unsigned.

Jul 9, 2015 3:27 PM

Football featured prominently in Vanderbilt SEC Network 'takeover'

Vanderbilt plans to kick off its SEC Network takeover with a little football.

The Commodores’ 2012 Music City Bowl victory over North Carolina State will start the 24-hour run of some of the school’s most memorable athletics events in recent years.

School officials and former baseball All-American David Price selected 12 games in four sports to air from 11 p.m. (CDT) Saturday through 11 p.m. Sunday. Five of the 12 games are football contests, including the 2005 victory over Tennessee in Knoxville (which will air early Sunday morning). Three are men’s basketball, including the 2012 SEC Tournament championship game vs. Kentucky, which will air in prime time (7 p.m.). There also are two baseball games and two women’s basketball games.

The complete schedule for Vanderbilt’s SEC Network takeover:

Time (ET)



2012 Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt vs. N.C. State


2007 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship: Vanderbilt vs. LSU


2013 Vanderbilt vs. Georgia (football)


2005 Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee (football)


2007 Vanderbilt vs. Florida (men's basketball)


2012 SEC Tournament Semifinals: Vanderbilt vs. Florida (baseball)


2008 Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee (men's basketball)


2008 Vanderbilt vs. Auburn (football)


2009 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament Championship: Vanderbilt vs. Auburn


2013 Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee (football)


2012 SEC Tournament Championship: Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky (men's basketball)


2007 SEC Tournament Championship: Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas (baseball)

 (schedule subject to change)

*Takeover schedules were created from available television inventory; NCAA Championships were not available for re-air.

Jul 9, 2015 10:25 AM

Another former Vanderbilt pitcher gets an All-Star invitation

It is not just Major League pitchers from Vanderbilt who have performed at an All-Star level this season.

Throughout the minor leagues former Commodores continue to show up on the lists of top players in their respective leagues.

The latest was Navery Moore, who was selected Tuesday for the Frontier League All-Star Game next Wednesday at Schaumberg, Ill.

Moore was a 14th-round pick by Atlanta in the 2011 draft and spent three seasons in the Braves’ system. He signed with Joliet of the Frontier League, an independent league with from Pennsylvania to Missouri.

He is Slammers’ closer and through Tuesday is tied for fourth in the league with nine saves. He has appeared in 19 games and has a 1.25 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings pitched. He has allowed just one run in his last eight appearances.

“You can have a great season and not make the All-Star team,'' Moore said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "There's a lot of factors that have gone into it, having good catchers behind the plate and good guys on the field.

"In any season, your goal is to pitch as well as you can and hopefully be one of the better players in the league. You put so much work in the offseason and leading up to the game each day, it's just nice to have that translate on to the field.''

A handful of other former Commodores can say the same thing. The rundown:

• Earlier this week, David Price and Sonny Gray were named to the American League roster for next week’s Major League All-Star Game.

• Late last month Tyler Beede, a San Francisco Giants prospect, was named to the All-Star Futures Game, which will be part of the festivities surrounding the MLB All-Star Game.

• Kevin Ziomek, who pitches in the Detroit Tigers system, pitched a scoreless inning (he allowed one hit and had one strikeout) for the North team in the Florida State League All-Star Game.

Jul 8, 2015 12:53 PM

Gray, Price named to American League All-Star pitching staff

It was the call Sonny Gray waited a lifetime for. And he missed it. Twice.

The 25-year-old from Smyrna is a Major League All-Star. The ace of the Oakland A’s staff, he was one of 13 pitchers named Monday to the American League team for next week’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati.

That group included fellow Rutherford County and Vanderbilt product David Price, a left-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.

For Price, a Murfreesboro native, the honor is becoming commonplace. This is the fifth All-Star selection for the first overall pick in the 2007 draft. All five have come in a span of six seasons. His first four came as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, including 2010 when he was the starting pitcher for the A.L.

“To me, the first one is always the most memorable,” Price said, according to MLB.com.

That’s exactly what this one was for Gray (pictured), the 18th overall pick in the 2011 draft. He was about to begin a round of golf in New York when he realized he missed a couple calls from Oakland manager Bob Melvin.

“He called me twice and I missed him, and then he texted me and I called him back," Gray said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "It was awesome. It was really exciting. It was news that you're wishing for and hoping for, and when you finally receive it, it's just a breathe of fresh air and your shoulders drop down and you just get a big smile on your face."

Now that he’s been selected, it’s likely Gray will have to wait at least a year before he pitches in an All-Star Game for the first time. He is scheduled to start for the A’s on Tuesday and Sunday. If he does pitch Sunday it will make him unavailable to throw two nights later in Cincinnati.

"If the option's left open to pitch in the game, we'll determine that pretty quick," Gray said. "But I still plan on pitching Tuesday and Sunday."

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jul 6, 2015 10:30 PM

Illness likely to affect Gray's All-Star availability

A bacterial infection caused Sonny Gray to miss his last two starts and, subsequently, might cost him his first opportunity to pitch in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

The 25-year-old right-hander out of Vanderbilt is scheduled to return to the mound Tuesday against the New York Yankees. That puts him on schedule to make another appearance Sunday, the last day before the All-Star break.

Pitchers and reserves for the 2015 All-Star Game (July 14 at Cincinnati) will be announced Monday evening, and it’s likely Gray will be among them. He has been the A’s No. 1 starter all season and is 9-3 with a 2.09 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings.

He was scheduled to pitch this past Sunday. Had he pitched then, he would have been scheduled for another start Friday, which would have allowed him enough rest to pitch in the All-Star Game, presuming he’s selected.

However, salmonella that caused gastroenteritis and required a two-night hospital stay forced him to miss that start as it had another one five days earlier.

From MLB.com on Friday:

The bacterial infection attacked his colon, which enlarged to twice its normal size, Gray was told. The pitcher, who began experiencing symptoms Saturday and had a fever as high as 103, is eating solid foods again for the first time since (June 28).

Gray called it “a rough four or five days.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jul 6, 2015 2:09 PM

Fulmer's first order of business with White Sox a charitable donation

Carson Fulmer said he does not expect to throw away his money.

Now that he has a lot of it, though, he does plan to give away a little.

The 2015 SEC Pitcher of the Year became the first of eight Vanderbilt players drafted this year to sign a professional contract. Shortly after he put pen to paper Friday on a deal with the Chicago White Sox, which included a signing bonus of nearly $3.5 million, he talked about his short-term plan.

Fulmer said he would donate $10,000 to the White Sox Amateur City Elite program. Ro Coleman, a teammate of Fulmer’s the last two years, is a product of that effort that was created in 2007 to help more than 100 inner city children annually participate in travel baseball.

"Before I joined the White Sox, I kind of hinted to him that I wanted to do it,” Fulmer said of informing Coleman of the ACE donation, according to MLB.com. “Obviously, he had a big smile on his face. It was just a special opportunity for me to give back, especially with the organization I'm part of now and to help kids that are going through tough situations or just need a little extra help moving forward.”

Even before he shared some of his good fortune, the 21-year-old shared some of his wisdom with current members of the program as part of Friday’s festivities that surrounded his formal decision to turn pro. He also threw out the first pitch for that night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.

"That was 100 percent on his own, he brought up the idea," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn of Fulmer's donation. "He came up with the idea, he researched it, he said, 'Why don't I do this?'

“He is a class individual. We're looking to have him for his ability and for his role as a potential leader for this club.”

Fulmer was the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft and one of three Vanderbilt first-round picks in 2015. He is one of 10 Commodores pitchers drafted in the first round since Tim Corbin became head coach in 2003. He is not likely to be the most extravagant.

“I don't know if there will be a lot of purchases," Fulmer said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I'm safe about my money."

That doesn’t mean he’s not generous with it.

(Photo: Vanderbilt athletics)

Jul 6, 2015 5:10 AM